Unfair car repair? How to prevent a heated dispute with your mechanic

An ABC7 I-Team Investigation
HARVEY, Ill. (WLS) -- A local woman ended up towing her car away from her mechanic after a dispute over an expensive engine got heated.

The woman called it an "unfair car repair" after she said her car sat unfixed for weeks at a mechanic. Angeline Lewis' 2010 Audi is still sitting useless, without a working engine.

"I needed a new motor," Lewis explained. She said she turned to One Stop Auto Clinic in Harvey and paid a $1,900 cash down payment on a $5,700 job for a new engine and labor.

"He would only take cash," Lewis said. But after several weeks of getting the run around - and not hearing about progress - she became concerned.

"I called Harvey police station and the young lady suggested that I just pop up. So one Saturday I popped up with the tow truck," she said.

Lewis got her car back and recorded the conversation with the repair shop owner on her cell phone, in which she says he talked about giving her a partial refund.

Lewis: "Why can't I just get it now?"
Repair Shop owner: "I don't have it. if I had it, I give it to you now and finish this problem."

But some money would be deducted from the refund because the owner, Khaled Mubarek, said he put a $500 deposit on an engine. But Lewis said he wouldn't show her a receipt.

"Because you are not showing me anything. I don't know, you refuse to give me the name of the junkyard, I can't even call them to confirm that," Lewis told him on the cell phone recording.

Then she said Mubarek refused to give her any money. Mubarek told the I-Team he will give Lewis that $1,400 partial refund.

When asked when she should expect to see the $1,400, Mubarek said: "In next two weeks, I give it to her."

But he also blames Lewis, saying he wanted her to pay for the entire cost of the engine, before he installed the it. He also said she had not followed through on a verbal payment agreement. Lewis said she didn't expect to pay in full until the job was complete.

Jason Knowles : "So you are saying you wanted $4,500 before you would put the engine in?"

Mubarek: "Yes.... Just for the engine, not for the labor."

Mubarek said people who don't pay for the majority upfront, many times abandon cars after the work is done.

"I have outside 15 cars and customer, nobody come back," Mubarek said.

In this case, the receipt showed no details when payments were expected or when the work was supposed to be completed.

When having your vehicle repaired, always try to pay by credit card so you can dispute a charge. You may want to pay in installments as the work is being completed

No matter what your agreement is with your mechanic, make sure the timeline of payments and progress of work are all in writing. It could help avoid disagreements down the road
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